December Young Women Lesson: What is Zion?

Traducción española/Click for Spanish Translation Translation generously provided by Cesar Carreon.


City of Zion Taken Up

For the teacher

(link to lesson outline

The word “Zion” has many meanings in our vernacular.  The original Zion was the city of Enoch, whose citizens were so righteous and pure that they were taken up to God’s bosom without tasting death (translated.) Since then, it is used throughout the scriptures to describe “the pure in heart” or to refer to the Lord’s people. It can mean the state of a person’s heart, and the unity of a community. Early Mormon pioneers used the term “Zion” to refer to the place where they could finally gather together and worship God in peace — eventually Utah. Oddly, there sprung up a retail shop, Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Inc. (ZCMI), a bank – Zions Bank, and a National Park – Zion National Park, all using Zion in the title. (Whether or not they are the pure in heart, I cannot say.) It is also used in the scriptures to refer to Ancient Jerusalem and “New Jerusalem” (in connection with the second coming of Jesus Christ.)

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So You Have to Teach YW the Sunday After a Major Policy Change that Hurts Your Heart

I’m sorry, I got nothing.

No, I owe you more than that. I owe my YW more than that. I don’t know if it’d be ok to share everything I want to share with my YW this Sunday, so I’ll post it here and the tech-savvy ones can read it. I owe the girls a scavenger hunt on the temple grounds where we go to church. Maybe we’ll do that. I don’t know.

There was only one other girl my age at church when I was a teenager. There was a group of girls a couple of years older than me and a group a couple of years younger than me. The other girl was my best friend at church. The very first Sunday I met her, I was 9 years old; I learned we were born just days apart and my middle name was her first name. In the course of our growing up years, our ward boundaries changed and our ward was split and then brought together again a few years later. We were lucky to stay with each other the whole time. I went to her homecoming dance when were were sophomores. We hung out at mutual and in Sunday School and YW.

By the time we were seniors in high school, though, I knew she was doing things that didn’t align with the standards set by the Church and she eventually stopped coming. When I turned 18, I was still in high school (my birthday is in December), but I had no friends in YW, so I moved up to Relief Society. I didn’t know why my friend stopped coming; I never asked. I do remember judgmentally remarking to my mom that my friend was doing things she should see the bishop about. That was the first time a friend of mine went “inactive.”

There was a time in my senior year when my mom stopped coming to church. She had anxiety attacks at church around certain people. At the time, I was very judgmental of my mom for not coming to church like you’re “supposed to.” She comes to church now that they’ve moved far away from that ward, but that was the first time someone in my family had to take a break from church for their health.

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Wherein we see proof that Mormons aren’t Christian

Frances_Hook_Jesus_with_Little_ChildrenApparently the Church has recently issued an update to the leadership handbook that equates same-sex marriage with apostasy and bars children from same-sex households from receiving baby blessings, baptism, and priesthood ordination until they are 18 and no longer living with their parents. Want more details? See the Salt Lake Tribune article.

(I’m going to spare you the several chapters I could write about how I believe that the Church’s doctrines and policies on homosexuality are harmful, divisive, misguided, uninspired, and actually at odds with Christ’s teachings. We’re just not having that debate today, all right?)

Because this is the least Christian thing I’ve ever seen come from the LDS Church. Did Jesus not say, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven“?

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The Power of President Nelson’s Talk in October General Conference

NelsonPresident Nelson, the new President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave a paradigm shifting talk in the last conference – on women.

I’ve had several discussions about this talk with friends and family – and I know there are a variety of view points. Here are my five reasons for believing this talk is powerful, timely, and paradigm shifting.

  1. A Bigger Broader Audience than we usually see in talks regarding women.

 He speaks to broad scope of women; he speaks to EVERY woman. He doesn’t only talk to mothers and nurturers (the usual); instead he calls out all the gifts of women. He calls to wives, mother, aunts, sisters, and “all women regardless of circumstance” – and references the following list of gifts, attributes, and characteristics.

  • Women who can speak with the power and authority of God
  • Women who can make things happen with their faith
  • Women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ
  • Women who understand the power of the endowment
  • Women who know how to call down the powers of heaven – to protect and strengthen children
  • Women who know how to receive personal revelation
  • Devout defenders of the faith
  • Courageous defenders of the family
  • Women who organize and can organize
  • Women with executive ability
  • Women who can plan, direct, administer
  • Women who can teach fearlessly and speak out
  • Women with the gift of discernment
  • Women who express beliefs with confidence and charity
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Why I am a Mormon Feminist…and Why I Won’t Tell You To Be One, Too


I have a conundrum that is apparently quite common among members of this community. On the one hand, I am someone with pretty liberal/unorthodox views in a conservative church. On the other hand, my professional life is populated with mostly non-Mormon progressives and I am conservative by comparison. I am too liberal for my church and too conservative for my job.

My colleagues and work friends ask me quite frequently how I can stay in the LDS church. The truth is that I do not really know. I do not have a rational explanation. I could talk about the sense of community, or the positive values, or my family’s roots in the faith. But the truth is that none of those reasons quite capture why I stay.

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Poetry (and Music) Sunday: Why – do they shut Me out of Heaven?

A Girl with basket of birds

A Girl with basket of birds


Do you ever worry about being unwelcome at Heaven’s gates for misbehavior? Is “singing too loud” cause for exclusion?


Here’s a lovely little poem of Emily Dickinson that asks, “is there a place for me in Heaven, even if I’m not exactly what you had in mind? Can I have a second chance? If our roles were switched,  I’d let you in!”




Why – do they shut Me out of Heaven?

Why – do they shut Me out of Heaven? 
Did I sing – too loud?
But – I can say a little “minor”
Timid as a Bird!

Wouldn’t the Angels try me –
Just – once – more –
Just – see – if I troubled them –
But don’t – shut the door!

Oh, if I – were the Gentleman
In the “White Robe” –
And they – were the little Hand – that knocked –
Could – I – forbid?
F268 (1861)  248

Aaron Copland sets this text in his vocal song cycle, 12 poems of Emily Dickinson (1950).  You can listen to a lovely recording by clicking here. (this text is the third song,  begins at the 5:30 mark)

The question I’m left with is: Who are “they” in the first and penultimate line? I think of the admonition to “Judge not, lest ye be not judged” and wish for a Heaven where God is only as just as necessary and as merciful as possible. And doesn’t mind my loud singing.

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